With the relevance of the intrusive Torchwood references finally resolved and the surprise appearance of the Daleks, Doomsday promised to be 45 minutes of top quality Doctor Who. Of the same quality of The Parting of the Ways this was not, however. Where last year we had undercurrents of political and religious allegory, the 2006 series has been one long advert for another show.
In last weeks review I made clear how happy I was with the main man David Tennant, and I was similarly happy with the contributions in this final episode of Coduri, Clarke, Dingwall and the multi-voiced Briggs. It was also satisfying to see the relevance of Jackie Tyler of the alt.universe being Cybernised, as well as the family story being finally wound up.
The two most moving moments of The Parting of the Ways was how the Doctor said goodbye to Rose twice. Davies has gone for the jugular in Doomsday, repeating last years successes in both hordes of flying Daleks and two departures for Rose, just as last year the Christopher Eccleston Doctor got two chances to say goodbye. This is heartstring pulling of the most crass and obvious kind, and seems to be for the simple purpose of covering up the episodes shortfalls.
It effectively ends after 33 minutes. The Doctor requires little time to expel the Daleks and Cybermen to the nether-realm of the Void, their war about to escalate and engulf the Earth. Countless dialogue triumphs aside the only truly wonderful Who moment was the discovery that the “Genesis Ark” was a Time Lord prison ship carrying millions of Daleks. Possibly the best moment of the entire series, and definitely up there with the moment Lumic was first seen as Cybercontroller and most of The Girl in the Fireplace.
But the Doctorâ€™s resolution to the problem is too quick. The face off with the Daleks is fun and adds to their folklore. Roseâ€™s reaction at the resolution of the cliffhanger was brave and a quick profile as to how she has changed from the girl we saw in Dalek. The hop to the parallel Earth is a useful plot device to force Roseâ€™s departure, and it all goes along swimmingly well until we meet Rose, wandering around alt.universe with her family and finding a beach in Norway whose name translates as “Bad Wolf Bay”. This is when Doomsday begins to fail.
A few minutes of Dalek and Cybermen war engulfing the Earth, taking in the destruction of various landmarks in the way the Slitheenâ€™s pig ship and the Sycorax vessel so successfully managed would have been a massive bonus to underline the threat. Instead slightly dodgy CGI Daleks (what else could they be, computer enhanced images dancing around on real world backgrounds?) cascading across the London skyline were vacuumed into the reality breach along with the Cybermen (tellingly not the Black Dalek, however) who should no longer be seen with a “Cybus” logo on their chest.
Roseâ€™s story from shop girl to Earth Defender has been an interesting one, and proof that the lives that the Doctor touches can be both enhanced and destroyed, pretty much depending on whether he saves you or not. Perhaps thatâ€™s the real message â€“ or perhaps the message is that yes, there are heroes out there, but only the chosen ones shall know them. Whatever the truth is, Billie Piper has been slap bang in the middle of it, and as former pop star turned actress, she has grown in stature since Rose to become one of the biggest “names” in British showbusiness. Iâ€™m one of the few who was encouraged by her casting, feeling that it was as promising as the casting of Eccleston whom I had admired as an actor for over 10 years and as confidence-inspiring as the appointment of RTD as Executive Producer, storyliner and chief scriptwriter. Thereâ€™s a jury in a hotel somewhere still discussing that last point, howeverâ€¦
The thing is as much as I like Piper, Rose as a character has been eroded and chipped at this season. Both scripts and performances in equal measure have let the character down and I was not relieved â€“ not quite â€“ but accepting to see her leave. Iâ€™ve watched The Hand of Fear and being more upset at the departure Sarah Jane Smith than I was last night. I was four months old when SJS left the TARDIS. But I digress; Piper has on the whole been fantastic, and deserves both massive appreciation from Doctor Who fans and good fortune with her future career.
So instead of being distraught at seeing the Doctorâ€™s young love depart in such universe-splitting circumstances and watching the Doctor zoom wistfully into the vortex alone once more, I was strangely subdued by the beach sequence and the following shock arrival of a Bride in the TARDIS control room. The dovetail into the Christmas episode was jarring but I reckon â€“ with a quality explanation as to why and how she comes to be there â€“ that it was possibly the best last scene to any episode of Doctor Who in a very long timeâ€¦
Thoughts on Doomsday from Thomas Willam Spychalski…
When making a program like Doctor Who, which must appeal to a wide audience base of not only a large part of the Population of the planet, but also across the age brackets, to say nothing of the Doctor Who fans who have increasingly become fickle since 1989, I suppose it is very easy to get swept away in the grandness of it all and get it all wrong.
Fortunately for us the series two finale got everything right. It had action, drama, and the only thing that did not truly work for me was some of the more comedic lines in the script.
Remember folks, if being chased by Cybermen and about to be upgraded, after being saved, make sure to make a reference to your parallel universe dead husband about how rich he is in another universe.
The Daleks were wonderful in this, my only complaint being they killed them off again, with the exception of the Black Dalek, who seemed to teleport to series three and beyond.
The confrontation between the Daleks and the Cybermen was very nice indeed, if not a little too â€˜emotionalâ€™ for my tastes and worked way better for comedy relief than the comedy elements woven into the actual plot.
The Cybermen did seem weak in this installment, being destroyed by Daleks and humans alike, but surely they are a strain of Cybermen now extinct, giving way for the Cybermen from our universe to have a go at the good Doctor in the future.
The other elements of the tale were expertly placed, from Jackie meeting her long lost husband, to the â€˜no not yetâ€™ mentality employed in Rose Tylerâ€™s departure from our screens.
Billie Piper was very convincing as an actress in this one, making up for some of her camp silliness in earlier tales from series two such as â€˜The Idiots Lanternâ€™, and all the regulars from the first two series did a fantastic job in this one providing closure to the more dramatic elements presented in the new series as a whole.
David Tennant also deserves a heap of praise for his part, and his last lines to Rose were brilliant, not slipping into the realm of being too hokey or mushy, and at the same time leaving finally no doubts about how the Doctor felt about Rose, as well as steering clear of cries of “foul!” from the die hard fans.
The story and plot itself was one for the more obsessive followers of the series, but doing so without alienating the rest of the viewers.
The genesis ark, much debated all over the Who community since last weeks episode and this, proved to be a delightful reward for long term viewers new and old bringing references to the Timelords and the Time War, and Iâ€™m sure until it opened many of the fans were kept riveted to the screen wondering exactly what was inside the device.
What was inside of course was millions of Daleks, flying through the sky bringing instant death to the masses and many happy children young and just young at heart throughout the nation.
This story proves what the new series can do, and only lets me wait and wonder in anticipation till Christmas when we get an invite to a wedding and hopefully more of the same great entertainment provided in the final episode of series two.